Deacon candidates get Charlotte bishop's blessing as they enter formation
CHARLOTTE — Eighteen men have taken a major step toward becoming permanent deacons – one of the largest classes ever in the nearly 30-year history of the diaconate in the Diocese of Charlotte.
Pictured: Eighteen men of the Diocese of Charlotte began their formation as candidates to the permanent diaconate Aug. 10. More photos from the Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral are on the diocesan YouTube channel. (Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)
During the rite of candidacy at St. Patrick Cathedral on Aug. 10 (chosen because it is the feast day of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr), they were installed as candidates by Bishop Peter J. Jugis who blessed them upon stating their willingness to prepare themselves "in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and His Body, the Church."
"May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment," Bishop Jugis prayed.
Ordained for service, or "diakonia," the diaconate imprints a character and communicates a specific sacramental grace for service of the liturgy, of the Gospel and of works of charity. The first of three orders the Church may bestow – deacon, priest and bishop – permanent deacons remain deacons in their assigned ministries. Deacons serve as ministers of the Word, the altar and charity and they are found in a variety of settings: they assist priests at Mass and with pastoral work; they proclaim the Gospel and may give homilies; and they can perform baptisms and witness marriages. Funerals, visits to the sick and homebound and, in this diocese in particular, ministry in jails and prisons are diaconal ministries.
The candidates have already been through an intense discernment process called "aspirancy." More than 50 men originally applied to enter for this class, but just 18 completed the aspirancy period.
One of the new candidates is Ruben Tamayo, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte and director of its youth ministry.
Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Tamayo rediscovered his Catholic faith when his son was baptized. He'd spent his adult life in corporate America building up a successful career but not finding the peace and happiness that can only come from Christ. The pastor who led him and his wife through baptism preparation classes told him "forthrightly" that he needed to practice his faith if he wanted his son baptized. It made sense, Tamayo says, and it wasn't long before he developed a passion for the faith.
He enrolled in a Bible study class at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte, and one day a classmate asked him if he'd ever thought about becoming a deacon. He laughed... but the idea didn't leave his mind. The seed was planted.
"I sure did not see myself being anybody that the Church would want to have as its public face," he recalls.
A few years later, he felt pulled to the diocese's lay ministry program, which also happens to be a prerequisite for the diaconate. Then in 2009 – after the seed had grown for several years – he applied and was invited to aspirancy, which he described as "a good period of peeling back what a deacon does and what he actually is."
Why does Tamayo want to be a deacon? He will do whatever God wills, he says, but he has been able to discern three goals: one, he seeks to grow in his interior spiritual life by cooperating with God's sanctifying grace, so that he may help others as Jesus taught; he wants to participate in the life of the Church more actively; and he wants to use his God-given talents as an educator and bridge-builder to build up the Church in our diocese.
"I'm ready to put our Lord's yoke on," he says, referring to the Gospel passage of Matthew 11:28-30.
Tamayo and the other 17 candidates – Guillermo Anzola, James Bozik, John Card, Sigfrido Della Valle, Joseph Diaz, Michael Goad, John Harrison, Richard McDonald, Thomas McGahey, Marcos Mejias, Thomas Sanctis, Charles Schreiber, Gary Schrieber, William Sears, Miguel Sebastian, Jack Staub and James Trombley – will now continue in-depth studies to prepare for ordination to the diaconate, expected sometime in 2014.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
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